“Khan” is the bad guy in the second Star Trek movie.

Cannes, France

Open on “the French Riviera.” If you’re a copywriter or screenwriter, the first sentence of any script is crucial. It could determine where you’ll be spending a significant portion or your life. In this case, ten days. As the French say, “It is not uninteresting,” which translates to the American, “Awesome!”

(“Cans” are what you find in a six-pack.)

I’d like to say, “thanks.” to my wonderful client HP, who sponsors the Young Lions Competition at the International Festival of Creativity every year. Basically, this festival comes on the heels of the film festival, but is centered around ad nerds and content providers. Awards will be given to the best and most innovative advertising in the world. Part of this competition involves welcoming up-and-coming talent – the Young Lions, many of whom will be competing in the Young Lions Competition. Along with HP and my colleagues at BBDO, we have created a unique space for these Young Lions to hang out and work during the competition. Here’s a PR video, shot by our partner, Porter-Novelli. Please ignore my mini-mullet. I’ve had that trimmed since the shooting of this video.

HP White Space

Beginning next week, you can follow the evolution of the room on Facebook, by following #HPWhiteSpace on Twitter, or by checking out the gallery on HP.com/go/canneslions

(“Cons” are the guys you’d find in D-block.)

Although I will be working the majority of the time while there, I should be able to work in the following favorites.

1. Vin rouge. I think we can all agree on this one. However, café creme is a close second.

2. “Deux croissant, sil vous plait.” Although Molly will not be traveling to France with me this time, I still plan on ordering them in pairs.

3. Macarons. Taste the rainbow!

4. The surf. I miss living by the ocean.

5. And my #1 goal? To get on a boat. The essence of big pimpin'.

I’ll be in my best linen yacht wear with my flippy floppies and my nautical-themed pashmina afghan.

(“Can,” spelled Cannes, is a city in the south of France that hosts an international advertising festival.)

Au revoir!

I’m like a one-man jam band.

Anyone who’s ever picked up an instrument long enough to have played in a band knows this much is true: Jamming with your buds (friends and beers) is fun. It starts when you’re in your basement or some storage space you rented on the outskirts of town. You plug in and start noodling on your guitar. Hey wait, you found a hook. Your friend Todd joins in on the drums, but you call him “Toddler,” because you’re in a band. The bass booms in right on the beat, missing a few notes, but quickly finding its way. Without even noticing, a tune is forming, ebbing and flowing and turning into something else–a free form  jazz oddyssey. The three of you could continue on like this for an hour (or at least until the cops show up). But have you ever seen a jam band live? I know there’s a few good ones. Black Sabbath is one of my favorites and those guys can go on for 13 minutes without boring me. But even worshipping Grateful Dead fans are the first to admit that this style of play can add up to some awful performance amongst the gems. And those guys are/were amazing musicians. Rest in peace, Jerry.

Anyways, I’m telling you this to explain the awful videos your about to see below. This is a self-indulgent attempt to document my art making process. It’s a lot like watching a free concert of a teenage jam band at the student union. The filmmaking is poor. (I need to buy a decent camera, a intervalometer and Final Cut Pro. My Canon Powershot on a tripod that’s duct taped to the basement rafters and poorly lit workspace are really bringing my production values down.) But I’ll probably learn something from it, just the way musicians do when they jam.

If you like the tracks on these videos, they are Aerosmith’s Lord of the Thighs on Video 1 and Video 2? “Twin of Myself” by Black Moth Super Rainbow.

You can see professional photographs of some of my finished artwork here. I’ll continue to document my efforts and share from time to time for those of you who love train wrecks. Any folks out there who care to share some of their creativity? Send me a pic or share a link. I’d love to see what everyone else is up to.

Hankerings

Whenever I get a craving for something, it simply never goes away. I sleep on it and it’s back in the morning. I can go a whole week and still not forget about it until I’ve actually tasted it. Well, Saturday night after Bridesmaids at the movies, greek salad popped into my head. Not sure how I made the transition from Whoppers, Milk Duds and comedy, but it happened. GREEK SALAD (and not just any old Greek salad.) Having grown up in Clearwater, just south of Tarpon Springs, I truly believe that all other Greeks that make salad are doing it wrong. Louis Pappas’ recipe is what I consider to be the classic–mainly because buried beneath the lettuce, feta cheese and pickled goodies, lies a heaping mound of potato salad. Louis Pappas Restaurant had been family-owned and operated on the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida since 1925. Sadly, that location closed in 2004. (No worries. There are many other locations in the Bay area.) I will always remember the many Pappas-style Greek salads that my family and I picked apart over the years. That’s what I needed. And when I woke up Sunday, it was still there, begging me to pay attention to it. So I headed to Publix.

Here’s the gist of the recipe, although I do chose to make a few changes. The original can be found here. I also, usually half the recipe for just Molly and I. And don’t get too freaked out if you’re missing an ingredient or two, just compensate. Citrus is a great replacement for vinegar. I’ve used cilantro in place of parsley. Anchovies are great, but just add a bit more salt if you don’t have them. The potato salad and green bell pepper are hard to replace however.

Potato Salad:
8-10 redskin potatoes
4 whole green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, fchopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt
Greek Salad:
1 head of romaine lettuce
3 cups potato salad
2 ripe tomatoes cut into 6 wedges each
1 cucumber, peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 fingers
Juice from 1/2 lemon
4 (3-inch-square) portions feta cheese
1 green bell pepper, cut into 8 rings
4 canned beet slices
1 dozen shrimp, cooked and peeled
4 anchovy filets
12 Kalamata olives, sliced or pitted
12 pepporoncinis
4 to 8 whole green onions
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Oregano

Start with the potato salad. Quarter unpeeled potatoes. Cook potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them. You don’t want them to fall apart and get mushy. Cool until you can handle them. I put them in a stainless steel bowl or strainer and put in the freezer to speed things up. While cooling, whisk together in a large bowl – vinegar, salt, chopped green onions, parsley, and mayo. Add to cooled potatoes; mix carefully with a spoon or rubber spatula. TIP: If you reserve the hot water you can use it for cooking your shrimp. Simply add more Old Bay Seasoning than you think is at all reasonable and drop in your shrimp for exactly two minutes. Drain, but do not run water over them. Also put in the fridge to cool. Frozen shrimp will work fine, but make sure to thaw them first.

Make Dressing: This is a simple oil and vinegar dressing with oregano, salt and pepper added. You can make as much or little as you like, just keep the oil and vinegar ratio approximately even. Last night, I added a grated, fresh plum tomato to my dressing. Molly, my wife, has a problem with the texture of tomatoes, but I hate to deprive her of the flavor. Simple quarter a tomato, squeeze out the seeds, and run over a grater until all you have left is the skin. This is a great way to do salsa too. Add this to the oil and vinegar and whisk.

If you want to recreate the pic above, this’d be a good time to throw a steak on the grill. I do the next step once the steak is resting after cooking. Generally, you have about 10-15 minutes for a steak to rest. That’s a fair amount of time for the next step.

Building the Salad: Line a large platter with outside lettuce leaves. Mound potato salad in the center. Cut up the hearts, toss with dressing and place on top of potato salad. Place cucumbers and tomatoes around the potato salad. Arrange feta on top of salad; place green pepper rings, beets, shrimp and anchovies on top of feta. I prefer to put the beets directly onto the cheese like Pappas did it. I love the way it stains the feta. Place olives, pepperoncinis and green onions around the edge. Sprinkle with a light squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. Enjoy with a glass of white wine or a cold beer.

Wanna Bet?

Here’s a spot I did recently for AT&T. You may have seen it. Hopefully, you like it. Unfortunately, because of the way things fly around in the crazy world of advertising, I was unable to go on the production. My coworkers, Jeff Spillane and Heather Gorman put the finishing touches on it. Nice job, you two. Scott Biear was my creative partner on the project.

The song they were arguing over was supposed to be “Get Jiggy with It”– Will Smith’s first hit. But as things sometimes go, we had to change it. What a great track we wound up with: Tag Team’s “Whoomp There It Is.”

It’s rooted in the way my wife, Molly, and I settle arguments–usually with our iPhones and Google-Wiki. Enjoy.

the line

I find it fascinating that there really is no such thing as a perfect line in nature. If you look at a thing, you’ll notice that a line is created by contrasting light and that there is a gradient where the changing light meets. But there’s really no line there. It’s good to think this way when you’re learning to draw or paint. But all that said, I love the line. I like making them, I like following them, and I like finding them. Finding them? Yes. Literally.

When I lived in Tampa, I used to park in a dirt lot a couple of blocks from my office downtown. And I would often come across the most magnificent lines right there in the dirt. They were really coat hangers that had probably been used by people who locked their keys in their car or by petty thieves. I’m sure they were twisted up in order to slide up, around and down the window into the sweet spot on the lock. I can almost see their tongues at work as the wiggle these locksmith’s tools into place. I’m also certain that once the lock had been opened, these coat hangers became useless and were tossed to the ground. Here’s where they grew into interesting lines. Over the years, cars crumbled, twisted, flipped and broke these pieces of metal into some natural-looking lines. And the weather gave them a nice patina of grime and rust. I find them fascinating. So I picked them up, shoved them into my backpack and brought them home with me. And though I’ve never used them in any of my art, I do find plenty of inspiration in them. Despite having moved to the west coast, gone through a divorce where I lost everything except my guitars, laptop, and the fold-top desk my Grandmother Dee Dee gave me, and then moved back east to Atlanta, I still have my lines.